Genre: Tenderpunk, Punk Pop
Favorite Tracks: “Pool Hopping,” “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA,” “Knead,” “u v v p (feat. Buck Meek),” “Kickflip”
Ripe fruits sour and seeds scatter across illuminati hotties’ second full-length album, LET ME DO ONE MORE. Producer-turned-artist Sarah Tudzin sees the crumbling of romantic relationships intersect with the liberating individuality of being freshly single. Freedom contextualizes the record in more than one way; Tudzin’s previous project, FREE I.H., marked the end of a year-long offensive to fulfill her previous contract with Tiny Engines, a label she lampooned as manipulative and in breach of ethics. We’re now treated to Tudzin free from constraints, exercising her trademark irreverence as a newly independent artist.
A studio engineer first and foremost, Tudzin’s experience spanning many different genres pays dividends across LET ME DO ON EMORE, which like past releases feels like a monument to both her versatility and perseverance. The album begins with the obvious radio darling of the bunch, “Pool Hopping.” A painfully catchy and playful exploration of post-breakup spontaneity, low-stakes indecision leads to lines like “They said the water’s warm / But I’m not sure if you and I are,” as Tudzin pinballs around a summer fling in an exercise of autonomy. The song is a carefree anthem, complete with rapid fire drum hits that practically vault you over the residential gates themselves. Tracks like “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” offer some glorious petulance as Tudzin and her voice modulations dole out shots of disdain at everything from potential lovers and startups to influencer culture. The main riff gnashes in-and-out of verses, sounding like an axe taking a very gradual fall down a flight of stairs. Tudzin routinely builds up this resistance in her verses, only to explode into earworm, upbeat choruses. It’s a rewarding give and take that displays the range of emotion usually reserved for multiple songs.
The project’s idiosyncratic lyricism stand ever-present amongst the shifts in mood. “Knead” gives us the awe-inspiring one-liner “hey [you a] gremlin power box” amidst a flurry of memorable verses. Perfect retorts like “you point to my neck and I point to your plate” drive home the heartlessness of her partner’s sabotage born out of boredom. As is the case with much of the album, the tempo ebbs and flows. The song’s recurring bridge frames the capricious nature of the track; haunting, downtempo guitars hypnotize while Tudzin repeats her favorite homophone, “knead.” We’re only wading in the intricacies of human desire for a mere 20 seconds before distorted major notes beam the mood back into a bubbly cheekiness.
While the record is most remarkable in its frantic moments, “u v v p” stands out as a welcome shift to midtempo. Buck Meek of Big Thief lends his sultry voice to the track’s outro with a loveable and southwest jargon-filled monologue. With a chuckle in his delivery, Meek asks his lover to “forgive this bad old plum rattling loose in a barking iron,” perhaps the most on-brand line possible from the Wimberley, Texas native. The tracklist takes an aggressive turn halfway through. “Joni: LA’s No. 1 Health Goth” hilariously takes the piss out of the City of Angels’ aloof, style-over-substance scenesters. The apathetic characterization is a clever detour into the heavier side of the Hotties’ sound, but one that toes the line of novelty a bit too much to be a standout.
The crux of LET ME DO ONE MORE is made most clear on one of the best tracks of the project: “Kickflip.” “I got the impending dread / I got the magical thread / I lost the keys to the van / I lost my man to my mans / I lost a leg in the sand / I bought the grocery store bread,” presents a unified objective: persistence in the face of insecurity and monotony. Tudzin veers but never misses the plot of forward movement. Closer “Growth” is a fitting ballad of longing—a yearning for the innocence of childhood, family pets, and romance free of ego and self-deceit. The title tells you all you need to know about the lead woman’s headspace: Tudzin isn’t looking for perfection. The mission of LET ME DO ONE MORE becomes a revolt from stagnancy, with flaws and mistakes embraced. Her trials and shortcomings are merit badges, reminders of a consequential existence.